Have you played the game of “phone stack” yet?
As explained to me, any group of folks gathering socially — typically a meal at a restaurant — all stack their phones, smart or otherwise, in the center of the table. The first person in their group who reaches for his or her phone… pays the tab for the entire table. When it buzzes or beeps, can you resist reaching for your internet umbilical?
The point of “phone stack”? We are a people captivated, if not addicted, to continual, constant stimulation, enabled by our technology to immerse ourselves in the ever-flowing stream of personal, media-produced, and general messages and “content.” We have come to expect and to welcome constant interruptions, updates, and assurances, whether trivial or crucial.
Of course, much of that stream of content can be questionable or even harmful effluent.
Admittedly, I am not in a position to rant or point a finger here, since I am — this very minute — adding to the overflowing stream (info-dump?) with this blog. And I do thank God for the tools we have for staying in touch across a distance or in an emergency. This week, amazingly, I spoke with a friend living in China face-to-face on another friend’s smart phone. He even gave us a panaromic view of Shanghai’s infamous smog (without the stinging eyes or hacking coughs on our end).
But I love the reminder we get from phone stack — letting go, resisting our impulse to keep checking our phone texts, e-mails, tweets, entertainment downloads, etc., enables us to refocus on our immediate surroundings, especially people present with us.
We require time for reflection. We require real conversation, verbal and non-verbal, with real people in real time… sometime. We are blessed by walking away from the screen and talking with God.
I speak all the time — every day, in person, by phone, text, or internet message — with folks who seek, CRAVE a connection with the divine. The Psalmist has a word for us: Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him… Psalm 37:7.
Our souls are better prepared to receive a renewing, refreshing Word, if we can stop once in a while and take a break from the bombardment of voices, images, and stimulation coming at us. That said, keep reading… I am almost done.
However, the “waiting” of prayer and meditation probably works best if we forego – for a dedicated time – playing solitaire on our cell phones or “Angry Birds” on an electronic pad. Perhaps we can substitute a low-volume musical background, or even quiet.
So, I challenge you to the game of “Single Phone Phone Stack.” And I pray you will be blessed by the very present presence of the One who abides with and within, even without WiFi.